Intraocular (Eye) Melanoma Treatment
Stages of Intraocular (Eye) Melanoma
Key Points for this Section
After intraocular melanoma has been diagnosed, tests are
done to find out if cancer cells have spread within the eye or to other parts
of the body.
The process used to find out if cancer has spread within the eye or to other parts of the body is called staging. The information gathered from the staging process determines the stage of the disease. It is important to know the stage in order to plan treatment. The following tests and procedures may be used in the staging process:
- Gonioscopy: An examination of the front part of the eye between the cornea and iris. A special instrument is used to check for blockages in the area where fluid drains out of the eye.
- Ultrasound biomicroscopy: A procedure that uses high-energy sound waves to measure small tumors. The amount of detail is about the same as that of a low-power microscope. Tumors can be examined this way for shape, thickness, and signs that they have spread to nearby tissue.
- Blood chemistry studies: A procedure in which a blood sample is checked to measure the amounts of certain substances released into the blood by organs and tissues in the body. An unusual (higher or lower than normal) amount of a substance can be a sign of disease in the organ or tissue that makes it.
- Liver function tests: A procedure in which a blood sample is checked to measure the amounts of certain substances released into the blood by the liver. A higher than normal amount of a substance can be a sign the cancer has spread to the liver.
- Ultrasound exam: A procedure in which high-energy sound waves (ultrasound) are bounced off internal tissues or organs, such as the liver, and make echoes. The echoes form a picture of body tissues called a sonogram.
- Chest x-ray: An x-ray of the organs and bones inside the chest. An x-ray is a type of energy beam that can go through the body and onto film, making a picture of areas inside the body.
- CT scan (CAT scan): A procedure that makes a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body, such as the liver or brain, taken from different angles. The pictures are made by a computer linked to an x-ray machine. A dye may be injected into a vein or swallowed to help the organs or tissues show up more clearly. This procedure is also called computed tomography, computerized tomography, or computerized axial tomography.
Sometimes pictures of the tumor are taken over a period of time and compared to see if the tumor has grown.
The following sizes are used to describe intraocular melanoma:
The tumor is at least 5 millimeters in diameter and
from 1 to 3 millimeters thick.
tumor is less than 16 millimeters in diameter and
from 2 to 10 millimeters thick.
The tumor is at least 16
millimeters in diameter or more than 10 millimeters thick.
The tumor is flat and grows widely across the uvea.
There are three ways that cancer spreads in the body.
The three ways that cancer spreads in the body are:
- Through tissue. Cancer invades the surrounding normal tissue.
- Through the lymph system. Cancer invades the lymph system and travels through the lymph vessels to other places in the body.
- Through the blood. Cancer invades the veins and capillaries and travels through the blood to other places in the body.
When cancer cells break away from the primary (original) tumor and travel through the lymph or blood to other places in the body, another (secondary) tumor may form. This process is called metastasis. The secondary (metastatic) tumor is the same type of cancer as the primary tumor. For example, if breast cancer spreads to the bones, the cancer cells in the bones are actually breast cancer cells. The disease is metastatic breast cancer, not bone cancer.
Intraocular melanoma may spread to nearby tissues or to other parts of the body.
If intraocular melanoma spreads to the optic nerve or nearby tissue of the eye socket, it is called extraocular extension. Intraocular melanoma may also be metastatic and spread to the liver, lung, or bone, or to areas under the skin.